ADA - The East Central University men's basketball team picked up right where they left off in 2015, by starting 2016 with a 91-87 win over Missouri-St. Louis in non-conference action at the Kerr Activities Center.
The Tigers (7-3) were led by junior Braxton Reeves and senior Stirling Thomas, who both tallied 28 points and four rebounds. Reeves added five assists and two steals, while Thomas earned an assist and a steal. Junior Ishmael Donzo added 16 points and five boards.
The first half was a close battle with four ties and six lead changes before the Tigers took a 49-47 lead into the locker room. ECU was the first team to pull ahead, going up by 10 (29-19), with 11:15 left to play. However, the Tritons (6-6) countered with an 11-4 run over the next four minutes to cut the deficit to three (33-30).
The rest of the half was a back-and-forth battle, with no team leading by more than three points and the Tigers earning the 49-47 lead after hitting the final shot of the stanza.
ECU then took over at the start of the second half, going on an 11-3 run in the first 3:30 to push the lead back out to 10 points. The Tigers kept the advantage around 10 points for the next 6:30 before adding an 8-0 run to increase the lead to 18 (77-59), with 8:45 left to play.
UMSL didn't quit fighting, using a 10-0 run over the next three minutes to cut the disadvantage to eight (77-69). ECU kept the pressure up in the final five minutes to keep the lead between six and 10 points, but a last second three by the Tritons left the final at 91-87.
Both teams had strong days shooting, with UKMSL shooting 54.4% from the field and ECU 47.5%. One of the key differences was at the charity stripe, where the Tigers went 21-of-33 and held the Tritons to a 14-of-19 mark.
ECU will continue its four-game home streak, Thursday, Jan. 7 when they host Harding at 7:30 p.m. in the Kerr Activities Center. The Tigers will end the streak against Arkansas Tech, Saturday, Jan. 9 at 3 p.m.